Pat Brothwell finds it sad that he is even writing an article about why drunken fist fights are stupid.
“Mr. Brothwell have you ever been in a fistfight?”
This question was posed to me the other day by a student when I asked if anyone had a question on The Crucible. I’ve learned in my short tenure teaching to give them short, blatant lies whenever they try to get me off topic with a question about my personal life, so I responded with a curt, “no, I get along with everybody.”
The thing is, this isn’t a lie. Well, partially. I don’t get along with everybody but I also I haven’t ever been in a fistfight.
The student wanted further clarification, “Are you sure? I bet you’ve gotten into some ragers back in the day.”
I resisted the urge to tell him that I’m not old enough to have existed back in the day and that back in my day ragers were parties and not fights. Instead, I leveled with him. “Do you think if I did get into fights I’d ever tell you about it?” He realized when a good point was made and we moved on back to Salem and witchcraft accusations.
I thought about it later that night. I’d legitimately never been in a fistfight. Let me clarify. I’ve never been in a fistfight with someone I’m not related to. My brother and I had some real knock down drag out fights in the day but no real damage was ever done and sibling brawls are an entirely different beast.
I had a brief moment of damn-does-this-not-make-me-a-man and almost had the urge to go start an unprovoked attack on the next passer-by I saw before I snapped back to reality and realized that I haven’t been in any fights because they usually annoy me. This made me feel smart and I’m going to announce that to the internet because it’s something that doesn’t happen frequently.
I guess you could say I’m a pacifist, or that I don’t get worked up easily. That wouldn’t be accurate. While I consider myself easy-going I do have a temper that likes to emerge when people are late, or when they make things into a process that shouldn’t be a process or are indecisive or on a powertrip (and I just convinced myself that I’m a jackass). When those things happen, I’m not always the most patient. But even though I will snap or run my mouth it almost always stops before things get physical.
I realize that once in a very great while fights are necessary, especially in a self-defense situations, and am pretty confident, especially after recently ballooning over 200 lbs, that I could handle myself if the situation did arise, but in general I’m more annoyed than anything when I’m in close proximity to brawls. Here are my top reasons for actively avoiding fights. Please be aware that some gross generalizations have been made.
- Fights disrupt your night. Now let’s just be realistic and concede that if you do happen to get into a fistfight over the age of 18, you should have alcohol in your system. Getting into a sober fistfight should only happen if your endgame is to appear on Cops. Even though I myself have never gotten into a fistfight, I’ve been in the same vicinity as them and had people in my group engage in the fun. Note—I’ve never had friends get into a fistfight where afterwards everyone looks at each other and says, “boy, that was fun.” Quite the opposite. It usually abruptly ends the night, gets you kicked out of bars, puts everyone in a bad mood and causes lost money in the form of spilled drinks and unheard jukebox music (if the bar decides everyone has to leave). To sum it up, anything that shortens my night or my buzz is not a good thing.
- I’m convinced that 95% of fights are avoidable (this is scientific statistic from my own head). A real statistic is that 2/3 of fights are started when one aggressive party antagonizes the other. So don’t let yourself be antagonized. If someone looks at you funny, look at them funny right back. If some guy you’ve never seen before and who you’ll probably never see again says you “look gay” because you’re wearing a pink polo have the brevity to realize that anyone who thinks that’s an insult in 2013 has a much sadder life than you ever will. Take things with a grain of salt and cliché as it may be learn to be the bigger man and walk away.
- If you’ve previously gotten into a disagreement with a friend for god’s sake and for the benefit of everyone involved, resolve it man-to -man at some point when you’re sober.
- Getting a black eye or a split lip is not a badge of honor, unless you received it demonstrating some sort of athletic prowess. Otherwise it’s embarrassing. Are you really going to go into work on Monday and explain how you got punched because some dude “got up in your face” over the weekend? I hope not. You’re probably going to have to make up some lame excuse about your softball league (that no one’s ever heard you mention previously) or walking into a door and everyone’s going to know you’re lying, and, as I previously mentioned, it’s going to be embarrassing.
- The older you get, the more important it is to preserve your face. None of us are getting any prettier, so why exacerbate that by getting your mug all banged up. A solid broken nose can permanently change the way your face looks.
- Dental work is expensive. I’m not even lying when I say that I’ve actively avoided getting into fights to protect my grill. I had some sort of orthodontia in my mouth from age 9-16. My parents invested heavily so that I could have a million dollar grin and I’ve personally contributed pretty sufficiently to maintain upkeep (Crest Whitestrips work wonders, but they’re not cheap) and I’m not looking to throw that down the drain in a few seconds. Go ahead and research how expensive cosmetic dentistry is and then thank me.
- Fighting over her isn’t sexy or healthy. Guys who fight over girls blow my mind. First of all, if your ex walks into a bar with her new boyfriend, chances are that A) they’re trying to get a rise out of you and if you fight him, they’ve succeeded and B) he started dating her after you guys broke up and this decision had nothing to do with you so don’t make it about you. If there was some sort of overlap in the relationship then you should be mad at her, not him (sidenote: unless it’s your former best friend or sibling or cousin, then that might be the 1% of the time that you’re warranted in being upset). Also, we aren’t in high school anymore. There shouldn’t be any fights over a girl. Do you really want to be with someone who can’t choose between you and someone else? Lastly, there’s no need to fight with someone your date or girlfriend is talking to. People in relationships talk to people of the opposite sex. I’m pretty sure if the situation were reversed you’d be referring to your girlfriend or date as a “psycho” or “clinger.”
- Fighting rarely shows how tough you are. Legitimate fights, boxing or MMA for example, requires intensive training, tactical maneuvering and the stamina to make it through several rounds. Your average bar fight is over and done with before a lot of people even know what happened. Blindly swinging and landing a punch in a crowd does not take skill or toughness. Neither does sucker punching someone. Neither does tackling someone whose been drinking. I could go on.
As I mentioned previously, there’s a lot of generalizations going on here. Sometimes fights are unavoidable but in the meantime don’t be the guy going out looking for them.
In other news, specifically because I wrote this post, I’ll probably get into a “real rager” this weekend and return to work on Monday with a tooth knocked out of something. It’s just how my life works.
photo: diongillard / flickr